PFC offers packaging alternative with solderless flip chip technology

PFC offers packaging alternative with solderless flip chip technology

Polymer Flip Chip Corp., a new chip packaging firm with a slant on offering a solder-free flip chip process, has opened its doors in Billerica, MA, and is ramping two manufacturing lines capable of producing12 to 13 million units per year.

Initially, the firm is eyeing the “low-temperature” end of the packaging market, where a high-temperature solder process is less suitable for certain applications, such as smart cards, said chief operating officer and co-founder Richard Estes. “It`s not our intention to go head-to-head with the solder markets,” he said.

The key to PFC`s technology is the use of an isotropic, silver-filled conductive polymer. The fully additive process uses an optional screen-printed dielectric polymer passivation step, and a stencil-printed application of the conductive polymer bumps; a third step, application of an epoxy underfill, follows. This method is capable of producing 75-micron diameter bumps on 125-micron centers. PFC said it is currently developing a process that will produce 50-micron bumps on 100-micron centers. Next year, the company is planning to expand into a 32,000-square-foot building in Billerica, where it will operate nine manufacturing lines with a capacity of 90 million units per year, Estes said.

The firm has about 14 employees, a number of patents and pending patents in the U.S., Japan and other regions. PFC plans to market its technology through a number of outlets, including technology licenses, design services, pilot manufacturing and full volume manufacturing. The company has about 40 development programs underway, some of which Estes believes could lead to either manufacturing contracts or licensing agreements. Currently, dealings include packaging for the smart card, RFID and medical electronics markets, but offerings for SIMM/DIMM and custom ASICs are also envisioned. The firm, founded in 1997, is an offshoot of materials supplier Epoxy Technology, which began experimenting with conductive polymer materials in 1966, said Frank Kulesza, founder and CEO of both companies and a former IBM researcher.

Kulesza noted that once the company opens the additional manufacturing lines next year, the existing lines will be dedicated to pilot production and R&D work.

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